10 Rules for Success

If you’re anything like me, there will always be a compelling reason why now is not the time to act.

It’s too early. It’s too late. You’ve not done enough preparation. You’ve done too much. They’re not ready to listen. They’re bored waiting and have moved on to greener pastures.

Either way, you’ve missed the boat. The next one’s a week on Friday …

Hey-ho! Like me, perhaps, you find yourself drawn to the words of this song:

Our modern ears might detect a dash of national stereotyping in there but, hey, Miss Peggy makes procrastination sound so appealing – sexy, even! – that by the end you’re all set to do sweet nada but sit out in the noonday heat beneath a great big sombrero …

From that kind of chilled-out perspective the song could be viewed as a delicious critique of the uptight, clock-watching, unforgiving world we actually live in. And weren’t machines supposed to usher in a brave new world where we’d all be freed from the drudgery of work to pursue meaningful hobbies and play constructively with our children?

What went wrong? Did I miss a meeting? (Several, but don’t worry, they never told you they were having them. Ed.)

No, but you see, I do worry! I worry that my urge to procrastinate stops me achieving anything much. Putting the occasional blog post together – although I sometimes whinge on about it – is the least of my problems. Without deadlines and directions, I tend to flounder. And to continue the fishy metaphor, you could say I flip-flop around.

A friend of mine once accused me – amused, I think, rather than annoyed – of having what he called ‘a shopping-trolley mind’. His idea was that I tended to pull things off the shelves, so to speak, at random. I reckon his real complaint was that this made me difficult to argue with.

I’m rarely short of something to say. If anything, problems lie the other way – I produce too much and lose focus, so that my writing tends to peter out having lost its way. I should edit, of course, to sift the wheat from the chaff but … well, you guessed it … I am prone to postponing the process.

Perhaps there’s a therapy group somewhere. My name is Dave Kingsbury and I’m a serial procrastinator … 

I hope they’ll be kind to me. Not like the originator of this brutal little list that I nicked off of the interweb and cleaned up for respectable readers like your good self. Can you imagine – the ‘f’ word in every sentence? It sounded like Bob Geldof!

 1    Do the work. Don’t be lazy.

 2    Stop waiting. It’s time.

 3    Rely on yourself. The universe doesn’t care.

 4    Be practical. Success is not a theory.

 5    Be productive early. Don’t mess around all day.

 6    Don’t be a baby. Life’s hard. Get on with it.

 7    Don’t hang around with time-wasters.

 8    Don’t waste energy on things you can’t control.

 9    Stop pretending. It’s embarrassing.

10   Stop being a people-pleaser. It’s sad.

 

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Image: deviantart.com

 

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Storm in a Teacup

'The time has come,' the Blogger said,
      'To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
      Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
      And whether pigs have wings.'

'But wait a bit,' the Reader cried,
      'Before you start your post,
Consider customer fatigue
      Where some give up the ghost
Whenever folk go rambling on
       With length their only boast.'

'Let's talk instead,' the Blogger said,
      'Of what you really need:
The benefit of minds like mine
      Is very fine indeed —
Now if you're ready, Reader dear,
      You can begin to feed.'

'But not on you!' the Reader cried,
      Turning a little blue.
'To wade through half-baked tripe would be
      A dismal thing to do!'
'It's tit for tat,' the Blogger said,
      'If I unfollow you!'

'Please yourself,' the Reader shrugged,
       'It's all the same to me.'
But deep inside, well, something cried:
       A blogger's heart, you see,
While over in the Blogger dwelt
       A reader's sympathy.

'It seems a shame,' the Blogger said,
      'To play this spiteful game,
When mutual support so far
       Has been our climbing frame.'
The Reader, oh, said nothing but
       Was thinking just the same!                       
  
  
                  with apologies to Lewis Carroll

Appy Days!

After far too long struggling with the slowness of my WordPress link, I’ve finally got around to downloading the WordPress App.

No idea why it took me so long. The difference is striking. Typing this now, letters and words appear instantly instead of several seconds later – in effect, I was writing blind and trying to marry what was in my head with whatever eventually showed up on the screen.

The link was so slow that I couldn’t access my list of followed sites, which made managing them well-nigh impossible. Now I can whizz through them – just been unfollowing those who haven’t published in a year or more. The number of these surprised me, as did the higher number that haven’t posted for several months.

also noticed many sites with no information about when they last posted. Does anyone know if such sites are disused? It seems sensible to unfollow redundant blogs and so make it easier to concentrate on active sites.

I haven’t been visiting as much as I should and would be happy to receive heads up and links to posts you think I might like. I well remember doing just that in the early days to build up my readership.

Ah, the boldness of youth!

What am I talking about? That was only three years ago … or was it four?

Ah, the forgetfulness of age! Listen, did I ever tell you about that time at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival when everybody went skinny-dipping?

did?

Oh well … won’t hurt to hear it again, will it? You see, in all the excitement, nobody had thought to pack their cossies …

[That’s enough excitement for today, time for your Ovaltine … Ed.]

 

 

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Philip Larkin’s Shorts


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If I was any good at Photoshop, this picture of poet Philip Larkin would have shown him wearing shorts. Great big baggy shorts and, below them, bare feet. You’d imagine he was just about to go for a paddle and laugh like a drain. But unlike Steve Austin, the Bionic Man – remember him? – we don’t have the technology.

Larkin did – as much as he needed, anyway. He took this proto-selfie using a timer. Behind him rises the steel skeleton of the brand-new university library where he was to serve out his working days as Chief Librarian. The following poem – perhaps his last – was written on an 80th birthday card to the university’s Vice-Chancellor, after whom the new Brynmor Jones Library was named:

By day, a lifted study-storehouse; night
Converts it to a flattened cube of light.
Whichever’s shown, the symbol is the same:
Knowledge; a University; a name.

Contrasting images become resolved in a wider concept. The zoom lens of the poet’s attention moves in and out, shifting its focus, seeking deeper truths within life’s random clutter. Philip Larkin’s shorts – short poems, of course, and not truncated trousers! – resemble his photographs, I think, in that both capture a whole world in a sudden flash of insight.

My favourite Larkin photo has to be this one. I imagine him setting up the timer and then composing himself with canny deliberation for this knowing self-portrait at once serious, gentle, vulnerable, revealing, funny. And above all, like his poems, honest.

 

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This is the first thing’

This is the first thing
I have understood:
Time is the echo of an axe
Within a wood.

 

‘To put one brick upon another

To put one brick upon another,
Add a third and then a forth,
Leaves no time to wonder whether
What you do has any worth.

But to sit with bricks around you
While the winds of heaven bawl
Weighing what you should or can do
Leaves no doubt of it at all.

 

Days 

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.
Midwinter Waking
Paws there. Snout there as well. Mustiness. Mould.
Darkness; a desire to stretch, to scratch.
Then has the – ? Then is it – ? Nudge the thatch,
Displace the stiffened leaves: look out. How cold,
How dried a stillness. Like a blade on stone,
A wind is scraping, first this way, then that.
Morning, perhaps; but not a proper one.
Turn. Sleep will unshell us, but not yet.
Myxomatosis
Caught in the centre of a soundless field
While hot inexplicable hours go by
What trap is this? Where were its teeth concealed?
You seem to ask.
                            I make a sharp reply,
Then clean my stick. I’m glad I can’t explain
Just in what jaws you were to suppurate:
You may have thought things would come right again
If you could only keep quite still and wait.
First Sight
Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold. As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth’s immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.

Home is so sad

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

 

As Bad as a Mile

Watching the shied core
Striking the basket, skidding across the floor,
Shows less and less of luck, and more and more

Of failure spreading back up the arm
Earlier and earlier, the unraised hand calm,
The apple unbitten in the palm.

 

Take One Home for the Kiddies

On shallow straw, in shadeless glass,
Huddled by empty bowls, they sleep:
No dark, no dam, no earth, no grass –
Mam, get us one of them to keep.

Living toys are something novel,
But it soon wears off somehow.
Fetch the shoebox, fetch the shovel –
Mam, we’re playing funerals now.

 

The Little Lives Of Earth And Form
The little lives of earth and form,
Of finding food, and keeping warm,
Are not like ours, and yet
A kinship lingers nonetheless:
We hanker for the homeliness
Of den, and hole, and set. And this identity we feel
– Perhaps not right, perhaps not real –
Will link us constantly;
I see the rock, the clay, the chalk,
The flattened grass, the swaying stalk,
And it is you I see.
BBC Yorkshire looks through the lens of Philip Larkin ...

Melodious Mirth 10


Image result for yellow kitten

I know what you’re thinking. Desperate for people to read his posts, he’s finally flipped his lid and started to post pictures of appealing baby animals. Admit it, you wouldn’t be at all surprised to read this corny caption: ‘Aw, just look at that cute liddle puddy-tat!

Well, frankly, I’m hurt. Do you really believe a respectable site like this one would court easy popularity by providing gratuitous eye-candy for people to gawk at? Rest assured, A Nomad in Cyberspace is a kitsch-free zone with a zero-tolerance policy on anything too soft and/or fluffy.

(NB  This policy may be changed without notice if the cat pic produces a sudden stratospheric viewing spike in my WordPress Stats.)

Joking aside – what do you mean, you didn’t know I was? – the above picture wasn’t there for entirely gratuitous reasons. It shows a yellow cat like the one that features in a funny song I recorded from the radio – Children’s Favourites, as I recall, introduced by Uncle Mac – on our brand-new Grundig-made reel-to-reel tape-recorder all those years ago.

It wasn’t the best song on there, by any means. So why is it here, I hear you ask, in the final post of my Melodious Mirth mini-series?

Well, that’s down to the National Film Board of Canada who in 1988 made a great little film out of it. The film took over 15 awards, including a Genie Award for Best Animated Short as well as an Academy Award nomination. It appeared in animation historian Jerry Beck’s 50 Greatest Cartoons, placing at #32, and was included in the Animation Show of Shows.

Anyway, cat-critics, I’m not the only one to sell his soul to the highest bidder. Mr Johnson and the cat were later used in two adverts for Hula Hoops …

 

Kitten Image: Pinterest

Melodious Mirth 9

My mini-history of comedy music is coming to an end.

That’s not because I’ve run out of material – on the contrary, I’ve never produced so many draft posts, each with a musical comedy gem waiting for me to add some words of introduction. I just think it’s time to wind things up.

My previous post took a turn towards a harder edge of humour with satirical sideswipes at the Vietnam War (Country Joe MacDonald) and Cult Religion (Frank Zappa), so how about keeping the satire sizzling with this splendid spoof from Down Under that kicked new life into the semi-comatose novelty-song genre?

It’s also, by my standards, bang up-to-date – well, more recent than most of what I listen to! – which may improve my somewhat shabby street-cred and help me get down with the kids and stuff. So for now I’ll leave Chas & Dave and The Two Ronnies, not to mention The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band … [You just did! Ed.] … though of course I’m always open to reader requests … [So much for street-cred! Get on with it! Ed.]

Yeah, right, don’t want to alienate the younger element … future of blogging and all that … so it’s over to “New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo” for something or other hot and happening from where it’s at … [Where’s that? Ed.]

 

Melodious Mirth 8

Post 8 already?

The previous 7 have, for the most part, featured jolly music – cheery tunes you could whistle when your mum asks you what you’ve been up to – although the lyrics may sometimes be darker than a jaunty melody might lead you to expect. A good example of this is Tom Lehrer’s So Long Mom in ‘Melodious Mirth 4’ where the meaning is deliberately at odds with an upbeat air.

Such mismatches can make satire sharper. They add bite when the satirical targets are war and the gung-ho public attitudes that can, all too easily, lead us into it. Country Joe MacDonald set his acerbic song I Feel Like I’m Fixin To Die to the upbeat tune of Louis Armstrong’s Tiger Rag. The film of his 1969 Woodstock appearance provides powerful and moving evidence that he’d read the zeitgeist right.

Er, have I posted this clip before? Never mind, here it is again, just in case anybody reading this hasn’t seen it. And who knows, some of you who have seen it might fancy another look.

Me, well, 50 years on and I’m not tired of it yet ….

Flash forward five years and we find Frank Zappa taking aim at self-styled spiritual teachers who used bogus ‘healing’ methods to defraud gullible and often vulnerable people. But his contempt is for con-artist and con-victim alike. The persona he adopts is the guy who sees through all the hocus-pocus.

Zappa always satirised without fear or favour – hypocrisy and stupidity were his targets, no matter who you were. Nothing seemed to escape that eagle-eye, whether right-wing bigotry or fuzzy ‘New Age’ thinking. An outspoken critic of mainstream education and organised religion, he was a passionate advocate for freedom of speech, self-education, political participation and the abolition of censorship.

But humour is always his weapon, deployed here in the range of voices that he adopts – including a prototype rap-style delivery – and the clever match between a chaotic subject-matter and a musical arrangement that sometimes appears on the verge of collapse – though, of course, it never does!

It’s a bit like discovering a circus for grown-ups … with a decent band, for a change!